Large crowds lined both sides of Main Street in downtown Pine Bluff Saturday for the 2012 UAPB/AM&N Homecoming Parade. Spectators from near and far came out to see colorful floats, dynamic marching bands, shiny cars, cantering horses and more.
“Hello horse!” yelled 5-year-old Pine Bluff resident Xavius Holmes as a big brown horse trotted by with a cowboy hat-clad rider on its back. “I like the horses and the marching bands,” Xavius said.
Vincent Waller of Camden said he and his family came to see his son, Quinten Waller, a freshman in the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff band – known as the Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South.
Sheena Goynes of Little Rock experienced the homecoming display for the first time.
“I have been looking forward to this because I love parades,” she said.
Like many, Goynes was dressed in a heavy coat, scarf and gloves to combat Saturday’s 45 to 55 degree temperatures.
Rosie Walker of Pine Bluff sipped from a cup of coffee as she waited to see her grandchildren who were marching with the Jack Robey Junior High School Band and the Broadmoor Elementary School Band.
“It’s cold but I love cold weather,” she said.
Omie Futch of Pine Bluff peered down the street to see if she could see a pink float.
“I’m here to support my daughter and her organization, the Distinctive BELLES,” she said, adding that her daughter, a junior at Pine Bluff High School, enjoys being involved in the community service organization.
Jerrard Jones of West Memphis stood watching the parade with his sister, Jessica Jones, a 2011 graduate of UAPB. The duo cheered and took photos with their phones as UAPB’s band, known as M4, matched by.
UAPB alumnae Cathy Blakely of Clarkville, Tenn., stood with Marilyn Champion and Elizabeth White, both of El Dorado. The trio wore matching black jackets with the words “Ark. Rollin’ Lions RV Club Inc.” on the back.
“We support the university and the athletic department,” Blakely said.
“We usually come to every home game and some road games,” Champion added.
“Experience the Pride,” was the theme of this year’s parade. Several floats featured the theme and three won awards: The St. James United Methodist Church float, which displayed a black and gold Flagship of the Delta, won first place, Cosmic Kidz placed second while Kids Headquarters won third.
Larry Hall of Marianna took pictures from the bed of a pickup truck as parade participants went by.
“I’ve been coming down here for the last 22 years for the festivities and the gathering of people,” he said.
The Golden Lions fans’ enthusiasm spread to his friends and co-workers.
“He inspired me to start coming 10 years ago,” said Jammie Jones of Marianna. “I love the atmosphere and I love the crowd.”
Hall’s co-worker, Judy Freeman, also of Marianna, came to the parade with her daughter Marla.
“We’re loving it,” she said. “It’s the biggest parade we’ve ever seen.”